The grim reality of solvent abuse and suicide has hit home for an Innu leader who has spent more than two decades trying to get help for youth in Labrador.
Simeon Tshakapesh, Deputy Grand Chief of the Innu Nation, is now calling for an inquiry into the treatment of youth in Labrador after his son, Thunderheart, committed suicide last week.
Tshakapesh says he never imagined he would have to bury his 16-year-old son.
The Innu leader says he has been advocating for youth since he became a tribal police officer, but this hit home because he is advocating for his son and calls it “the hardest part.”
Tshakapesh says his son fell into the trap of solvent abuse two years. He says because the resources to treat youth in Labrador do not exist, they must send people away for help. He feels that has to change so the dozens and dozens of youth facing this issue can stay closer to family and home while battling the problem.
Tshakapesh’s wife, Ruby blames the system for the loss of her son. She is heartbroken and agrees with her husband that it has to be the Innu who lead the charge to make the changes that are needed to deal with a problem that is not going away.
Ruby Tshakapesh hopes no other mother has to go through this. She laments the fact that she will never see her son “grow up and have kids.” With tears streaming down her face she says “I lost my precious one, my sunshine.”